By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – For the Tennessee Tech softball team, their games are through. Now, when it comes to their Ohio Valley Conference tournament hopes, all they can do is wait and see.
Following UT Martin's sweep of the Golden Eagles on Sunday, Tech closes its regular season with an 18-26 record, 8-13 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Belmont and UT Martin have locked in the sixth and seventh spots in the tournament field, leaving the eighth and final spot between the Golden Eagles and SIUE.
UT Martin took game one 4-0 in eight innings, then completed a perfect game in five innings for pitcher Lexi Ray as the Skyhawks run-ruled the Golden Eagles 15-0. For Tech, it is its seventh loss in a row, going 2-9 in its last 11 games.
SIUE dropped all four games this weekend, swept by Tennessee State and Belmont and currently have a 15-24, 7-11 record in league play. The Cougars take on Murray State and Austin Peay in the make-up week this upcoming week and it could come down to tiebreakers to determine the final spot.
But it came down to a heartbreaking loss in game one. Scoreless in the bottom of the seventh, Beth McCulley and Jessie Lowery reached on back-to-back singles, then LaSala hit a ball to right fielder Aalia Bivens, a former member of the Golden Eagles. The ball landed for a single, but Bivens threw home to catcher Kenna Garst, throwing McCulley out at the plate.
With one down, UTM head coach Donley Canary put in a unique shift, removing an outfielder to play five in the infield – which would have spelled certain doom if Sydney Love-Baker hit into the outfield.
The gambit payed off as Love-Baker lined out to the infield and LaSala was tagged out trying to get back to first for an inning-ending double play.
The momentum shift propelled the Skyhawks as they struck for four runs in the top of the extra eighth inning on three hits and two errors.
Alyssa Arden, who had been locked in a pitcher's duel with Hannah Ridolfi, ended up allowing four runs – two earned on six hits, walking one and striking out seven. Arden fell to 11-14 on the season. Ridolfi picked up the win, allowing four hits while striking out two.
In game two, Ray saw 15 batters and retired 15. No hits. No walks. The closest Tech got was in the bottom of the fifth as Raleigh Lewis dropped a ball into right field, but Bivens threw to first baseman Gracyn McBride in time to get the final out.
Haeli Bryson took the loss, falling to 3-8 on the year. She allowed five runs – four earned – on seven hits, walking two and striking out two in 3 2/3 innings. Arden came on in relief and was tagged for seven runs – three earned – on five hits with a walk and a strikeout, while Callie Piper pitched the final third of an inning, allowing three runs on four hits.
UTM struck for 10 runs in the fifth inning, collecting nine hits with Tech committing three of its six errors in the contest in that frame.